Everyone who loves to skate can remember the good ole days of asking mom and pop for a lift over to the local skatepark, or in town to the best local skate spots. It was always a risk because as we all know, mom and pop don’t want to have to drive you to where you need to go every time you need a good spot to skate.
Then when we got older and could drive ourselves, there was the constant threat of local security and police always ready to chase us out of a good spot. Or for those who were skatepark enthusiasts, we all know how it is with the constant pressure to be at a certain level or the kids who could kickflip to nosegrind down the four-stair would make you wait all day to hit your favorite obstacle.
Well, the best solution to both these problems is having your own rail, box, ledge, or if you were really lucky, a mini ramp at your place that you could use whenever you wanted to! Now for those who are not the biggest craftsman, don’t have the time, or the money there are always some of the best mini ramps for purchase and can get shipped to you with minimal setup. BUT, if you are looking to build a one-of-a-kind mini ramp in your own backyard there are several important steps to consider when doing so.
Essential Components to Consider When Building a Mini Ramp
Here are a few things that you will consider and need to build your own mini ramp:
Experience and Commitment
Before even beginning the project it’s important to know the type of project you are getting into. Now, do you need an extensive background in construction or engineering to build one of your own? No, not necessarily. Does it help? Well, of course, any experience you do hold in DIY projects, woodworking, and construction can help but by no means do you need to be an expert.
One thing is for sure, you want to do your research, and plenty of it, to make sure you are building something that is completely safe for you (and potentially others) to skate. There are plenty of resources on the web, such as DIY Skate, or the supreme authority in Thrasher’s “How to Build Skateboard Ramps.” Either way, due diligence is worth avoiding injury.
If you have little background in general construction or woodworking, I would recommend asking a friend who does have some experience helping. With a 3 foot mini ramp, you are looking at about 30-40 hours of total build time. Depending on the materials used you are looking for it to total between $600-$800. So one of the most important aspects, especially when getting towards the end, is not to rush the process and make sure you are doing everything correctly.
The last thing you want to do is mess up the investment in any way, just because you want to start skating a weekend early. Take a deep breath, measure twice, and cut once. Find the perfect plan for you and start on to the next step.
The next big step and part that is essential to building your own mini ramp are deciding where you are going to put it. Ideally, you have an extra spot in the driveway or an already created concrete pad. But most DIY mini ramps are going to be built in the backyard on terra firma (earth). If this is the route that you are going to take, you most certainly are going to want to have concrete footings for the ramp to sit on. Use a line to ensure that all four of the concrete are level so your ramp is not warped in any way when it is finished.
You can also build the concrete footings in a variety of ways, using fewer larger blocks evenly distributed to support the weight of the ramp. Or you can take the route of using many, up to 30, smaller concrete blocks spread evenly on the bottom of the ramp. Also, I would not recommend building one inside, for the sheer fact of headroom alone, but if you do, always make sure you accommodate for at least 5 extra feet of space for air.
Most importantly, we have the materials that will come together to form what will become a heavily skated work of art. In order to ensure top safety and quality, it’s best to get the right pieces to fit the puzzle. First of all, most of the wood and hardware can be found at most home improvement stores. The steel for the coping might be a little tricky, again most home improvement stores should carry it, but if not you can find steel salvage and fabricators online.
If your ramp is going to be outside, protection from mother nature is a must. So when looking over the materials make sure you grab pressure-treated lumber, paint, and a tarp to cover while you are in the process of making it. There are options for the surface of the ramp as well such as SkateLite or Ramp Armor. So if you are building a standard 3 foot tall, 12 feet wide, and 24 feet long, here are the materials required.
- 2×4’s, 8′ long
- 4×8, 3/4″ plywood
- 4×8, 3/8″ plywood
- 2 3/8″ x 16′ steel pipe
- 25lb Box, 1 5/8″ screws
- 25lb Box, 2 1/2″ screws
- Clothesline bolts
- 2″ OD Steel Pipe (Schedule 40)
- Exterior latex paint
- 12” x 12” x 8” Concrete footings
The same with materials, most of the tools needed to build your own mini ramp can be found at local hardware stores. Online retailers will sometimes carry better deals, especially when they are used, but when it comes to reliability, you want to make sure that your tools are or you’ll be cursing the sky in frustration shortly after.
When it comes to building a mini ramp, most of the work will be in getting the measurements exactly perfect and getting the best possible cut out of your materials. Almost all of your main material will be wood, besides the steel for the coping, so expect lots of sawing, drilling, and nailing pieces together. Again, following the standard 3 feet tall, 12 feet wide, and 24 feet long, here are the tools required.
- Tape Measure & Pencil
- Hammer and clamps
- Combination square
- Drill w/ Drill Bits
- Circular, jig, and miter saw
- Chalk Line
- Impact driver
There is no question about it. Embarking on the endeavor of building your own mini ramp will be tough, with many trial and error experiences happening along the way. But having a wait-less, private, secure, and safe spot to skate until your heart’s desire is priceless. Bring your skating moves to the next level with this in your backyard and get ready for many endless nights shredding till the sun comes up.
Written by Gunnar Eng